The elements of good marketing are well documented – knowing your product or service, understanding your market, measuring your competition and developing awareness of what you offer are a few of the big ones. But one critical element is frequently overlooked.
In fact, even the more successful firms can stumble over this. They innovate, they market test, they measure engagement, they constantly fine tune their service. Yet so many firms undervalue the importance of sticking to their message.
This can happen for a range of reasons. But a common one is that growth and success can breed silos. Companies increase internal specialisation to the point that distinct teams within the business naturally develop their own forms and styles of communication.
For an example, a previously structured and predictable onboarding process might become heterogenous. At various stages of the journey, new customers receive different and disjointed messages that alter their expectations and jar with their established sense of who you are.
This can also happen as a result of outsourcing. As companies grow, they may start to farm out some of their back-office or non-core functions so they can focus on their highest-value services. But at the coalface, customers often don’t know the difference between the core and non-core. When they are confronted with a different standard than what they have come to expect, they lose something of their loyalty to your brand.
Loss of consistency also can occur through product or service diversification. If new products are just tacked onto the superstructure without being filtered through your firm’s DNA, the risk is they undermine your message elsewhere.
The point is that even if you haven’t consciously decided to alter your messaging, your clients can end up reading it that way. In this sense, your ‘message’ is more than a slogan. It is as much about how you communicate and the quality of the client experience.
Automated marketing technology clearly can help avoid some of these risks. Efficiency and scale can be boosted by automating routine tasks, like prompting customers to update, or structuring particular offerings according to individual preference.
But even the most ardent apostle of automation will normally accept that this technology is only a complement, not a replacement, for human marketing and communication services. Successful companies know that while clients in many cases would prefer digital engagement, there are other areas where they want to speak to a human being.
So in designing your marketing strategy, message consistency is a critical element. Maintaining consistency builds your credibility, facilitates engagement and increases confidence in your offering. And, of course, all these elements tend to be self-reinforcing.
The consistency should be built into your branded materials, the tone of your official and unofficial communication, your website, social media presence and sales calls. For instance, an insurance firm that positions itself as ‘making risk management easier’ will have a problem if its claim forms are difficult to navigate. A travel company who says ‘we’re always here for you’ has a problem if no one answers the phone.
In short, if the customer experience is at odds with the official messaging, your marketing strategy is undermined at one stroke.
So humming a consistent tune is not just good advice for choirs. Companies that get it right achieve a harmony between their products, services, official messaging and unofficial communication that makes it difficult for clients and prospects to get that tune out of their heads.